By Jeff Gillman, PhD – for GrowingAGreenerWorld.com. For clay soil, organic additions improve drainage and aeration and help the soil dry out and warm up more quickly in the spring. The effects aren’t all good, however. If your garden soil is too sandy, too alkaline, too soggy or any of a number of problems, the good news is that it can be fixed! Clay soil can be transformed in a loose, easy to work garden soil with time, patience, and persistence. Most frequently and most usefully, compost is added to your garden as a soil amendment to improve soil structure, buffer pH, increase the population of micro- and macro-organisms, and add organic material on which soil organisms feed. Here is Lee Reich’s recommendation for blueberries. You’ll probably need to add another layer, to the depth of 2 or 3 inches (5-7.5 cm. The soil will not dry out, weeds will be surpressed. Numerous garden centers stock straw, too. Whether you are trying to get more blooms from your flowers or a bigger harvest of fruits and vegetables, what you need is living, fertile, active soil to produce a fabulous garden. As it decomposes, the straw contributes valuable nutrients to the soil. Using good quality of either is important, so learn basic evaluation of bales. To lower soil pH by about one point: In sandy soil: add 1 pound ground sulphur per 100 square feet. Alfalfa roots reach down into the sub-soil up to 8 feet, bringing valuable hard-to-reach nutrients up to the soil surface where they are stored in the leaves of the plant. Adding worms to a vegetable garden is a fundamental organic practice that even novice gardeners can master. To ensure that it stays in the garden, containers, or lawn, after layering it down simply give your garden a thorough watering. If your goal is to enrich your soil, then the nutritious hay is much better. How to properly add soil to your garden beds to ensure optimal plant health. Mulch helps trap the moisture in the soil, and it keeps it warm, damp and fertile. Not only are they pleasant in a salad, or as a garnish on the plate, they make your straw bale garden beautiful too. You know you have clay soil when you can take a handful and can form clay figures. Thread in the Soil and Compost forum forum by charles1999: Hi, I have a compost bin in backyard. You can also incorporate naturally acidic organic materials such as conifer needles, sawdust, peat moss and oak leaves. Potato crops are huge when grown in a foot or two of straw on top of the soil. They don’t have as much manure or straw as the rest of the garden which has between 1 & 2 feet of straw around the plants & I water thru it as well as … Leaves that have decomposed for a year or two are considered to be leaf mold, a rich and crumbly “black gold” for garden soil. Good organic amendments for garden soils include wood by-products such as sawdust and bark mulch, peat moss, rotted manure, grass or wheat straw and compost. The soil particles are able to group together or aggregate more. The blueberries in the background benefit from straw mulch, because their roots are shallow, and the plants are moisture lovers. Livestock Manures: All kinds of garden-approved, composted manures are excellent soil conditioners. In addition to the use of animal manure to add organic matter, any composted plant material such as leaves, cotton burrs, hay, or straw will do. Using the cut alfalfa in your garden and compost adds these nutrients to the upper layers of your soil where other garden plants can use them. And if you use newspaper, shred or crumple the paper so it doesn’t mat and block oxygen to the soil. A bale of straw costs about $4 in my area. By now everyone knows that the best thing to add to a soil to make it work for their plants is organic matter. Do not turn over the soil just loosen it. If you feel like the soil is still hard you can work it with a Broadfork, or simple garden fork. Reduces soil erosion and crusting a) The organic matter helps to keep the soil crumbly and easy to work. Use these organic and natural methods to make healthy garden soil from common dirt. To fix mucky clay or sandy sand soil, add plenty of organic matter.You can’t change the type of soil you have, but adding organic matter makes your soil more like loam, which is perfect for plant roots. For starters, fall mulching gives you the upper hand on spring weeds. Mulch–that is, material (usually organic) laid on the soil surface–is a tremendous ally in the garden. Never throw straw away. It depends upon the variety of mulch you choose to use and what benefit you want it to exert. The idea is to use bales of straw to act as a growbag of sorts for your plants, eliminating the need for soil and significantly lowering the price for starting a garden. You could consider straw bale gardening a form of composting and gardening simultaneously. Adding organic matter in the form of leaves, hay, bark mulch, peat moss, and untreated grass clippings all help to make clay soil more workable. Straw will compost pretty quickly in most garden settings. Most garden and landscape plants perform best when the soil organic matter level is at least 2% (the goal for vegetable and flower beds should be 5%). Harvesting Your Straw Bale Garden. I get it from a farmer nearby. So if you really do grow blueberries in soil with a pH of 7.5 – provide some references to support this position. It keeps plants upright, channels water and air to their roots, and feeds their growth. 11. Odd as it seems, animal manure is an organic material that is often used to improve garden soil. Hay or straw may be excellent, good, or poor quality. First, do a simple soil test, and with these 19 ways to improve garden soil, we tell you exactly what you need to add to fix it up and have nutritious soil for growing your dream garden. There are minor fluctuations in nitrogen levels as the straw decomposes. Organic matter is the key to amending less-than perfect garden soil. These soils are loose, easy to prepare for planting seeds and plants, and have a large number of earthworms. A bale of straw should cover roughly 1,000 square feet of lawn if it's applied so that the soil is visible through it. Adding some form of organic matter to the soil each year is a good garden practice. It often comes with some of the bedding material (straw, hay, sawdust) mixed in. Handful and can form clay figures and have a large number of earthworms natural methods to make healthy soil! Sawdust, peat moss and oak leaves and persistence ground sulfur it often comes with some the! 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